Ringed by attractive midsize mountains and bathed in history, Echizen-Ōno (越前大野) was designed by Kanamori Nagachika in 1575 based on the layout of Kyoto at that time, earning it the nickname 'little Kyoto'. Today the town is overlooked on most itineraries, but it has a special quality: even if the rest of the world seems to have forgotten it exists, its ageing population certainly hasn't. Even as its population grows older and the buildings start to decline, there's a palpable spirit of ganbatte (never give up) that shows in the immaculately clean, although sometimes almost empty, streets.
Ōno's Teramachi (temple row) features around 20 temples arranged side by side, some operational, others closed; most are still carefully cared for by their owners and patrons. It's a truly stirring spot for a contemplative walk, and an even better location for budding photographers.